Waiting to be bowled over

By Jordan Liu


Sarawak (yellow shirt) vs Sabah in the womens pair semi finals of lawn bowl. -Photos by Danielle Sendou Ringgit


With my newfound enjoyment over diving, I had high hopes that lawn bowling would be a blast as well. Not only did it incorporate the soft lawn you swear you will sleep on one day, but it was bowling. Bowling! The sport of rolling meteorites in clear highways into unsuspecting replicas of people. It sounded interesting.

Now, I never did have any knowledge of lawn bowling. Its fundamentals were a mystery to me, but seeing how it worked so well with seeing diving for the first time, I was not as worried as before.

Firstly, boy, were the timetables insane! There were so many teams that I thought it would be impossible to go through even one event in one day if the rinks were cleared for only two contesting opponents. If lawn bowl was exciting, then surely today would be a blast. It was overwhelming, really; even more so seeing how lawn bowl was more-or-less an obscure sport. (And Malaysia seemed really serious about it.)

Ten am was when the first event started with both Men’s Pair and Triple at the Sarawak Lawn Bowls Arena.

First off, where were the spectator seats? Instead all we got were large steps acting as wannabe secretaries for our butts which were in no way comfortable- they were solid cement without any backrest- and space was limited.

Funnily enough, only a handful of people were there as well. Compared to the diving events, however, the crowd here seemed more energetic, and the usual cheers from fans became a charm after a while. I didn’t even know what they were cheering for, or who they were focusing on, but I would perk up when anything worth a ‘yeah’ or a conundrum of hype happened.

In a funny sense, nothing interesting happened when no one said a word. I could literally look away and turn back only when someone said some sort of cheer, and I wouldn’t miss anything worth watching.

The mundane aspect of the sport made me realise that it wasn’t worth full-time investment, only bursts of it. My interest fluctuated through and through, and it ultimately died down at the later stages. I have to say, trying to focus on the games got me yawning a few times, because the game is innately slow and isn’t exciting unless some contesting of space occurs.

Another problem one was faced with was the vending machine. I mean, sure, this is a small issue, but when I’m sitting on cement in Equatorial weather watching a simple game of tossing ball for an hour and a half, you better be sure the vending machine works, or that the displays show correctly.

Oh, all these soya bean drinks have sold out, but which other is available? Where is the red diode that’s supposed to show that there is still some Twister Orange in the machine?

As a spectator, the scoring system was almost as confusing as diving. There is this white ball that is rolled at the start, and one or the other team must, from what I had seen, roll a larger ball as close to it as possible. Or maybe they had to hit the white ball? Or… Well…

After a while, I did get a vague gist of it. They got more excited when the ball they rolled was closer to the white ball, so I had come to the conclusion that they must try and get as close as possible. But even them sometimes the team who gets the closest ball doesn’t get a score. How strange. I was boggled, but anyhow, I was betting time and time again that a ball literally touching the white ball was going to score.

Why were the score boards so small? I know the teams have to see their own scores to strategise their comeback, but shouldn’t the audience see it clearly as well? I wanna know if the team I am focusing on is winning. Did I have to bring binoculars as well?

Having so many teams playing at the same time, moreover, had its downsides.

If you support one team, surely your support for EVERYONE ELSE dwindles and nevertheless disappears. I was most intently watching Terengganu and Perak, not because I was fans of the two in the art of daintily flicking balls over long distances, but because they were closest to me (and because one of them seemed really cool).

In some sense, I saw little in lawn bowling. While it seemed exciting at certain points, I feel that if I were to play the sport myself, it may feel completely different.

It looks to be a competitive sport that also advocates an odd closeness to the opposition, seeing how the teams all take turns bowling at the exact same spots. I also concede to the fact that there may be many people who find the viewing of lawn bowling to be thrilling.

Sadly, this wasn’t my cup of tea. The bursts of fragrance and savoriness could not pick it up as much as diving did.

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